So Which is it?

Throughout most of my adult life I have heard many people say “Things happen for a reason.”  These people (and at least in my experience most of them are ladies I have met) feel that whatever happens, good, bad or indifferent, there is some plan.

For example:  I got laid off last year, but then I landed the perfect job!  Things happen for a reason.  I overslept, and missed the ferry, but then I heard it had mechanical failure and was stuck in the sound for hours.  Things happen for a reason.

For some reason, and I don’t know what it is.  This bugs the heck out me.  I am in the opposite camp.  In my belief, stuff (or another word that starts with an S) happens, and we choose how to react. I got laid off?  Well then I am going to start working my ass off to apply to anything that sounds good.  HEY, I got a great job.  Because I busted my ass to find it.  No one GAVE it to me.

I was turned around 4 times trying to climb Rainier?  I started riding bikes and met everyone of my goals since then, cuz my body functions GREAT below 12000 ft.  Being turned around didn’t happen for a reason, it happened due to genetics.  I coulda become a couch potato, but nope!  I looked for and found another way to stay in shape.  Stuff happened and I chose what to do about.

I guess that’s the thing that bugs me about “Things happen for a reason.”  If it’s all preordained, if there is some plan , then why should I stress and try so hard.  Whether I work hard or not, if the plan is that I get laid off, then it wouldn’t make a difference.  I do not like not having any control.

In my humble opinion, its our choices and dumb luck that control what happens to us.

Did he say luck?

Yeppers!  I firmly believe there is good and bad luck in the world.  I have made it to work, been at my desk, and found out that there was a HUGE wreck somewhere.   The freeway is basically closed.  Yep I got lucky.  My wife and I took a seaplane to Dry Tortuga off of Key West.  We landed and the sea rudders broke we couldn’t dock.  Bad luck.  Win lotto, good luck, flat tire, bad luck.

You can increase your luck, say to get a job, by doing research, having great references, and excellent reputation.  But it still comes down to being that one person more qualified than someone else AND hitting it off with the people doing the interview.  There is always that intangible, the thing that can happen to either make or ruin your plans.  This is luck.

10 years or so ago was a country and western song.  it may or may not have been called “Jesus take the Wheel”.  Long and short of it, this girl was driving, hit ice, lost control and let go of the wheel and yelled “Jesus tale the wheel!”  I am telling you every time this came on the radio I yelled at the station in my car.  I am NOT denigrating anyone’s beliefs.  What made me mad was thinking.  Crap, what happens if this happens to someone on the some road I am on, and they throw their hands up like that!  999 out of a 1000, they are going to crash and burn, and they could take me too!  If it does work, it is flat dumb luck!

Why do I bring this up.  Because it illustrates my point perfectly.  If I am in a spin in a car, I want to have my hands on the wheel, doing everything I can to regain control.  I am not going to leave it up to chance.

Long and short of it, if more people in the world owned up to the fact that it’s the choices in life that we make that has made us what we are and will continue to do so in the future.  It’s not the math teacher who “hated you”  the girlfriend who dumped you, or the school bully who was mean to you.  It’s what you did after these things happened that mattered.  If plan A doesn’t work, whats your B,C, D…

But I am curious, of those who read this.  What do you think.  Does it happen for a reason?  Or does stuff happen and we react from there?





Perception is Reality

Yesterday started out normal enough.  I was working at my desk most of the morning, cranking out changes to training material, iPod blaring away spewing the 80s tunes I like so much.  A productive morning!

For lunch, Michelle, I and a couple of friends hit up a food truck for the first time ever.  Since our neck of the woods abuts Amazons headquarters area, we have recently had an explosion of these food trucks, all out to serve the 20 and 30 somethings with lotsa money to spend.  This was the 6 Coins truck, and we got sushi.  It was OK, but nuthin to write home about,  We are going to try a different truck next Tuesday.

This was fun, but not the reason for the post.  After lunch, I made a quick walk to the bagel store.  With my century ride only a few days away, I needed the bagels to make bagel sandwiches, my favorite breakfast when I ride!   (a good Ham or turkey and cheddar bagel sammich before a ride is good for 40 miles, at least!)

While walking down there, I ran into one of the guys on the work Bike Commuter team.  While we were waiting for the walk signal to change for us, he looked at me and said, “Wow, you have a long bike commute.”  “Nah,” says I, “its only 17 miles.”  He just looked at me strange and walked off on his own errand.

Suddenly an exboss’s voice popped into my head.  John Turner.  (Helluva guy, one of the nicest people and best bosses I ever had.)  One day he and I were arguing over something and he said, “Tony, you need to understand, perception is reality!”  At the time he was talking to me about how I acted around the office.  I know  this will come as a surprise, but I can be both a bit of a goofball (razor scooter races around the 6th floor, and carrying a yo-yo into a meeting) as well as a bit argumentative (at the time of our conversation I was asking for the 6th time why we needed to buy new files cabinets just so all of them matched.  He couldn’t understand why I cared.  I just thought it was stupid to spend money to make furniture match!)

His concern, when he told me that, was if people perceived me to be unprofessional and argumentative, then to them, that was reality.  I am a great employee, know my stuff and get things done on time and UNDER budget.  BUT, if people perceived that I was a problem child, then they would not want to work with me.  Hmmm, could be part of the reason I ended up as part of the layoffs?

So what does all this have to do with the conversation during my walk?  Well its about perceptions.  To me, 17 miles is not enough for even a training ride.  When I have just a little time on the weekends, I head out for a “quick 20”.   Anything less isn’t worth putting on the bike shoes.  To this guy, who is older than I, and commutes 5 miles, this is WAY too far!  Because of his perception of the distance, he’d never do it, due to mine, I don’t give it any thought at all.  Our realities are completely different.

I was pondering this on the way back when I did something I NEVER do.  I was munching on a salt bagel, as I approached a homeless dude with a sign asking for 25 cents.  Now ask anyone, I NEVER give to panhandlers.  EVER.  I donate to charities, I give blood, but I NEVER give to panhandlers.  Cold and Callous they call me.

Well for some reason, I reached in my pocket, and, finding no change, I gave him a dollar.  (maybe I needed good karma, who knows.)  Well he took it and it turned out to be two bucks. Well I ripped that 2nd buck out of his hand so fast…. (Just kiddin!).  I thought, “Oh well, no big deal on a buck”  but he saw the 2 and I could see how thankful he was.  To him, his perception, in his reality, that $2 was worth more than it ever would be to me!  (Hopefully I remember that when I have no cash really want a diet Mtn Dew at work!)

I started thinking how our perceptions of the world change.  Nowadays, I don’t care what the route is, if its under 40 miles, I can do it no problem!  I have a century on Saturday.  I have trained, and I am ready for it, but I am no longer nervous.  As century routes go, this one should be easy. Shoot, the way I feel now, I could probably turn around and bike back Sunday if I had to.  This wasn’t the case when I bought the bike.  My first century worried me for days!

I guess my reason for this post is this.  Maybe we should actively question our perception of ourselves, each other and life in general.  Instead of:  Exercise sucks!  I am not going to do it!!   It could be: Working out could be fun if I find a friend or something I like.  Instead of:  Screw it I’ll never pull this off.  How bout:  What the hell, maybe if I start it, I will figure out how to get it done.

Don’t get me wrong, I am no saint in this arena.  I suck at puttering around the house and trying to fix things (in my opinion) and at best, I perceive myself as a mediocre dad (other times I think crappy dad)

(Editors note:  Mom and Michelle, don’t get mad at me, this is about perceptions, how I perceive myself, and I know yall will disagree.

I do think I am an ok husband at times, other times…..

So, maybe, JUST maybe, if we could go past what we think, and go to others to see what their perception is.  This could work in 2 ways.  If, in your perception you or someone or something else sucks, check with others.  If they feel differently, maybe its time to change your mind, or at least give it another look.

On the other hand, if others think VERY differently about you than you do, maybe its time to figure out why.  I am not saying conform to the masses at all, but if there is something you do, that you are unaware of and it bugs the crap out of people….

Remember the sage words of John Turner.  Perception is reality.  We may NOT be able to change reality, but we sure as how can change the perception!

Like the wind folks!  And if I haven’t said so lately, thanks for visiting!